Not talking about writing, Part II

February 23rd, 2013Posted by Nancy


This is part II of Nancy’s “this is my blog and I’ll write about whatever I want” series. Today’s topic is canning, which followed soon after I realized that I was planting more beans and cucumbers than anyone could realistically eat at the time.

I come from a farming family on my mother’s side. She was one of 12 children who grew up on a farm north of Toronto and I have many fond memories of Sunday afternoons and summer holidays at “the farm” (it needed no other name). My grandparents even made me work once in a while, but mostly they were indulgent towards the horde of grandchildren scrambling around the house. When I wanted to learn to make pickles, I called on my aunt Carolyn. She and her husband Willie kindly ferried me from downtown Toronto to their house in the country and then spent the day teaching me the old family recipes for Dilly Beans, Bread and Butter Pickles, Dill Pickles, Celery Relish, and Sweet Pickles. I went home with a large number of jars which I had to work my way through on my own, since my husband doesn’t like pickles.

The next summer, the lesson was canned peaches and pears, and these my husband did find a use for by making a series of crisps and cobblers during the winter.

I’m now a steady follower of a number of canning blogs such as Food in Jars and make liberal use of Google if I think the first recipe looks too onerous.

Over the last two years, I’ve made various types of jam, Indian spiced pickled carrots, marmalade, zucchini relish, tomato jam, and a variety of chutneys born out of the need to use up the more than 30 green tomaotes I had at the end of last year’s stellar tomato season.

I’ve definitely made mistakes (do not confuse teaspoons of salt for tablespoons) and had plenty of “learning opportunities” (5 jars full of peaches displace much more water than 5 empty jars, weigh the Seville oranges AFTER you cut them up) but over the last year I’ve made:

– 3 jars of Strawberry Lavender Jam
– 2 jars of Strawberry Balsamic Jam
– 2 jars of Zippy Zucchini Relish
– 4 jars of Blueberry Lavender Jam
– 3 jars of Tomato Jam
– 4 jars of Bread and Butter Pickles
– 2 jars of traditional cornichon pickles (not a success – too much tarragon, cucumber spears do not make a good substitute for true cornichon pickles)
– 5 jars of canned peaches
– 3 jars of Plum and Walnut jam
– 2 jars of Green Garden Salsa (lost to the salt mistake)
– 4 jars of Green Tomato Chutney
– 2 jars of Roasted Garlic and Leek Jam (plus Leek and Potato Soup, Leek Gratin, and Leek Saffron Soup – I had a lot of leeks)
– 6 Jars of Seville Orange Marmalade
– 1 jar of Cinnamon Vanilla Sunflower Seed Butter (better with honey)
– 1 jar of Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Next up: Spicy white wine mustard.

I’ve mostly gotten over my fear I’m going to make a fatal mistake and kill everyone, and so can actually give jars away once in a while. After all, I’ve got even more room in the garden this year so who knows what I might have to learn to make.

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